26March2017

Home Editorial Turbulence in Turkish-Dutch Relations

Turbulence in Turkish-Dutch Relations

Turkish President Reciep Tayyip Erdogan was furious because the Netherlands had expelled two Turkish ministers who were going to campaign in the Netherlands. The campaign was to be carried out in the framework of the referendum in Turkey on 16 April to change the constitution and give greater authority to President Erdogan.

The Netherlands banned Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who had  planned  to attend a rally in support of President Erdogan in the city of Rotterdam. After the ban on Cavusoglu, Family Affairs Minister, Fatma Betul Sayan Kayafrom was also prohibited from entering the Turkish consular office in Rotterdam.  She was even escorted to the German border by the Dutch authorities before returning to Turkey. This issue makes Ankara accuses the Netherlands and some other European countries, intend to disrupt the campaign ahead of Turkish constitutional referendum. The reason Turkey organized a campaign in the Netherlands and several European countries, is because in these countries there are more than 5 million Turkish diaspora. Nearly 1.5 million live in Germany.

Dutch security authorities decision rejecting the arrival of the two ministers not only resulted in the issue of diplomatic relations between the two countries. There was also a physical clash between the Dutch police and protesters in Rotterdam.

The Netherlands had its own reason to reject Turkish referendum campaign in the country because it might disrupt the security and stability ahead of the Dutch general election on Wednesday (15/3).

As a retaliation of the Dutch action, the Government of Turkey decided not to allow the Dutch Ambassador to Turkey return to his post in Ankara. Moreover, Ankara is also temporarily freezing diplomatic relations between the two countries. This was announced by Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Numan Kurtulmus on Monday (13/3).

The heat of the dispute was expressed by leaders of both countries. Erdogan said there is still fascism in Europe. He also accused Western countries to have excessive fear of Islam, and demanded international institutions to impose sanctions against the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Erdogan's comments about fascism is unacceptable. The country itself is facing a serious challenge from the anti-Islam party of Geert Wilders, who tend to get sympathy from voters in the coming elections. There are fears among the moderates in the Netherlands if the right wing party win  the elections.

As a country that has good relations with both Turkey and the Netherlands, Indonesia is certainly concerned with the worsening relations between the two countries. It’s true that Indonesia cannot deeply involved in the bilateral issues. However, in bilateral forums with each country, Indonesia can play a role since the issues could still  be mediated.

Hopefully, the relations between Turkey and the Netherlands would  improve soon after the elections in the Netherlands and referendum in Turkey are over. (BNP)

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